NORFOLK, VA – The family of a man who said he was tackled by a Norfolk Police officer on Christmas Eve in 2018 is suing for $1.5 million, federal court records show.
Family Suing Norfolk Police Over Forceful Arrest of Black Man Who Was Riding A Bike Without A Headlight https://t.co/etPCJnvnuu
Despite Derrick Rountree’s death this summer from an unrelated incident, his family is still suing on his behalf over a 2018… https://t.co/ktWvXj1P1t
— Network Community Services® (@networkserveyou) December 28, 2021
The incident was captured on Norfolk Officer Aaron Nkrumah Christie’s body camera. The body camera video was reportedly submitted as an exhibit to the lawsuit a few weeks ago by attorney Christina Connell on behalf of Rountree’s family.
On Christmas Eve, 43-year-old Derrick Rountree rode his bicycle past a police cruiser without lights on at about 9 p.m., Officer Christie briefly sounded the vehicle’s siren, flashed its lights, and said something over a megaphone.
Rountree later claimed he thought the officer was alerting someone else and continued to ride away. Rountree turned to head to a friend’s place at the Tidewater Gardens public housing complex where he was staying when Officer Christie gave chase.
During a deposition taken earlier this year, Christie’s lawyers asked Rountree why he did not stop when the officer. He answered:
“Because I’m on a bicycle. What would he stop me for?”
When Rountree fails to stop for the officer’s repeated verbal warnings, the video shows Officer Christie running up and grabbing Rountree, reportedly because he was riding a bike at night with no headlights. The two then fall to the ground.
Rountree can be heard asking the cop, “Why you do that?”
The audio is muffled, but Rountree asks:
“Why you do that to me, bro? I ain’t (sic) do nothing.”
Officer Christie answered:
“You have no light (on your bicycle). We tried to stop you. You tried to run.”
“Is (sic) you serious, man? I didn’t know you had to have a light for a bike.”
Another officer who arrived to assist also told Rountree he needed to have lights on his bicycle.
Both officers attempt to help Rountree to his feet, but he shouts in pain.
Officers called an ambulance for Rountree. He suffered a broken right tibia and fibula in the fall. He was transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for treatment, where he was hospitalized for several days.
Rountree was charged afterward with a headlight violation and obstruction of justice. The obstruction charge was later dismissed, and Rountree was fined $15 for not having a headlight, court records show.
The family filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Norfolk in December 2020, claiming the officer violated his civil rights and that he posed no threat to them.
Christian Connell, the family’s attorney, questioned the officer’s motive for stopping Rountree:
“I know they had a reason to stop him, but they obviously didn’t have a reason to use that amount of force to stop him.”
In a deposition, Christie said he yelled out to Rountree to get him to stop:
“Because Mr. – in my estimation, Mr. Rountree was attempting to elude the police, and in a bid to apprehend Mr. Rountree, after grasping to slow him down and based on my speed, we ended up going to the ground, based on my momentum.”
Christie said he chased Rountree because he thought the fleeing man engaged in something illegal, such as drug sales.
Tragically, on June 24, 2021, police responded to the shooting in the 700 block of East Virginia Beach Boulevard around 9:30 p.m. in Norfolk, near a Shop ‘N Go store.
It was Christmas Eve in 2018 when Derrick Rountree got on his bike and headed to a convenience store in downtown Norfolk.
He was tackled by a police officer, his leg was broken in three places, according to a lawsuit.
Bodycam footage shows it all.https://t.co/iievahYT6y
— The Virginian-Pilot (@virginianpilot) December 21, 2021
Officers arrived to find Rountree suffering from gunshot wounds. He was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital with life-threatening injuries. He later died of his injuries.
The shooting is being investigated as a homicide, but no motive or suspect information is available.
Attorney Connell said Rountree’s death does not stop the lawsuit from moving forward:
“The damage that he suffered doesn’t go away and the lawsuit doesn’t go away.”
The incident was investigated by authorities, and Christie was cleared of any wrongdoing. He remains employed by the Norfolk Police Department.
The civil case is scheduled to go to trial on March 29.
Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters? Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you. Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories. Click to check it out.
Seattle officers caught on camera pulling man out of burning RV and saving his life
January 1, 2021
SEATTLE, WA – Seattle Police Officers responded to a burning recreational vehicle and were alerted that a man was stuck inside.
Officers immediately entered the RV and pulled the man to safety.
— Katie Daviscourt🇺🇸 (@KatieDaviscourt) December 31, 2021
Seattle Police Officers on patrol noticed smoke coming from an RV parked near Airport Way S and S Albro Place.
Officers moved in and noticed that there were a man and a woman that were attempting to help a man who had been caught inside of the burning vehicle.
Without hesitation, officers immediately jumped into action and pulled out their fire extinguishers, and worked to get the man safely out of harm’s way. The officers were able to extinguish the fire long enough to get to the man and pull him to safety.
Body-worn camera footage shows the heroic actions of the officers as they dragged the man out out of the vehicle and through the snow to get him safely away as the RV became fully engulfed.
The man suffered what were described as serious burns to his hands, head, and body.
The man was transported to Harborview Medical Center by the Seattle Fire Department.
An officer, who was burned in the rescue efforts, received medical attention at the scene and was not transported to the hospital.
As of now, the cause of the fire has not been determined but it is suspected that a heater inside the RV may have been what caused it. What is clear is that if were not for the quick and heroic actions of the Seattle Police Department, the outcome would have been dramatically different.
Officers helped pull a man from a burning RV early Thursday in Georgetown.https://t.co/yq0HWNKOwk
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) December 30, 2021
Heroic actions by officers often go unnoticed because they happen frequently and officers themselves typically shy away from the spotlight.
Officers tend to view any heroic actions as just part of doing their job, which it is, but that does not take away from the selfless actions by officers every day.
Another example of heroic actions occurred just recently when a police officer with the Lakewood Police Department stepped up to engage an active shooter. In that case, a 47-year-old man, Lyndon McLeod, began a murderous rampage throughout Denver and Lakewood.
Officers moved in and got into several shootouts with the suspect, but it was not until McLeod encountered Lakewood Police Agent Ashley Ferris that he was stopped.
Lakewood Police reports that Ferris ordered McLeod to drop his gun and surrender.
Instead of surrendering, McLeod opened fire on her, striking her in the abdomen area, but that did not stop her.
Ferris, bleeding and on the ground, returned fire, striking and killing McLeod where he stood, thus ending the mass shooting and saving countless additional lives.
Ferris was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital where she has already gone at least one surgery, but it is expected that she will have several more. For now, Lakewood Police Chief released a statement in which he praised Ferris’ selfless actions:
“All of us at the Lakewood Police Department are incredibly proud of Agent Ferris and the bravery shown by her and her fellow law enforcement officers during this active shooter situation. The entire Lakewood Police family will be here to support Agent Ferris and her family as she embarks on this recovery process.
“Our hearts are incredibly heavy with the loss of life and injuries suffered by others during this rampage. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cardenas, Gunn-Maldonado, Scofield, Steck and Swinyard families, as well as the families of those injured.”
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.